Sunday, 28 March 2021

Early morning Orange Brompton London spin and a rude Brompton rider

This morning I decided to take my Titanium Orange Brompton out for a spin. The primary reason for doing so was to give my new tyres - Continental Contact Urban - another outing and to break them in a little more (assuming that is a thing). 

My route was 8 miles one way and 8 miles back. It was quite windy at times but relatively mild. London was still rather quiet and with some restrictions being lifted tomorrow, I wonder what London will be like then? 

The new tyres roll rather well and I do not detect anything to make me think that they are less grippy than my usual Marathon tyres. If anything there is probably more rubber in contact with the road surface, due to their tread pattern. 

As I got closer to some of the London tourist spots, there did seem to be more people out and about but still nowhere close to what it should be. In addition to this traffic was light just about everywhere. There were lots of cyclists out and about more than a few Brompton riders. One of these proved to be rather rude to say the least.

Just off Brook Street I saw Brompton rider with a new looking black M3L with an obvious front wheel puncture. I slowed down to ask if they were okay. The owner of the said bike was holding their Brompton toolkit and asked if I knew how to fix a puncture. Parking my Brompton I had a look at their tyre to see a small shard of green glass that was obviously the culprit. Going to my saddle bag I went to retrieve a spare inner tube, as it would be much easier and quicker to just swap the tubes out. I explained this to the gentleman and was met with, 'just put a patch on the tube' as he opened his Brompton toolkit to get one out.  As I was about bend down to the front wheel with my own Brompton toolkit, I was greeted with 'can you hurry up.' At this I asked the gentleman whether he had mobile phone. When he indicated he had, I suggested he look up how to repair a puncture on YouTube and that he could place his toolkit in a place where the sun does not shine. At that I got on my Brompton and left. Some people!

Back at Hamilton Terrace I am always amused by the private security guards that sit in little cars watching nervously as people go by. Or drive up and down in little cars nervously. Sometimes they walk up and down nervously. Despite the fact they have seen me more time than I can count riding one of my Orange Brompton bicycles, they will watch with great suspicion. It is almost as if it is the wild west and a new rider has come into town and the local deputies, eye them with suspicion!

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

RideLondon to continue from 2022

It might be time to get your Brompton ready for next year, as the RideLondon cycling event that all started in 2013, looks set to continue for another 10 years from 2022.

I was not lucky enough to ever take part in the 100 mile event but was set to ride in the 2020 event. Of course the 'C' word took hold and cancelled pretty much everything in its path. Prior to that I had taken part in the short 46 mile version - once on big wheels and once on small wheels. 2020 would have seen me take small wheels again.

It looks as if the new event will not take place in its usual summer slot and over a weekend but in the Spring on a single day. The other big change will be the route, which will no longer see riders rolling over the Surrey hills. 

As it is a single day event and it would take several hours for participants to complete the route,  I wonder if the Brompton World Championships could be slotted in? I think that it is highly likely. Naturally, it would provide a very visible platform for Brompton and their bicycles but I and many of my fellow Bromptonians would suggest a different direction. 

The appeals of riding on a central London circuit is probably too good an opportunity to miss and I suspect lots of the organisation would at least be shared by others involved in the RideLondon event. However, the numbers are heavily restricted. via a ballot. Put on a Brompton World Championships somewhere in the UK and Brompton riders will appear in the hundreds. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Continental Contact Urban tyres

My tyre of choice for years has been the standard Schwalbe Marathon. I have tried the plus version of the Marathon but have not ever got on with them. Today I fitted a brand new pair of Contact Urban tyres by Continental. 

I fitted them to my Titanium Orange Brompton and the fitting process was very easy. Lots of people have been saying good things about these tyres for several months and more recently. It was however a friend in Canada who swayed me. He rides his Brompton more or less all year round in conditions that would have most of us reaching for a box of tissues. He has been raving about these tyres for the last 3x Zoom calls we have had, so I took the plunge. 

Going for a quick test ride, they roll well and do not induce that back of the mind fears Kojaks do. 

Hopefully as few longer rides in the near future will really test them but early impressions are good. Watch this a couple of months for an update  

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Brompton night time spin to Kew Gardens and back

With another sale of another surplus to requirements Brompton bag, I headed off in the early evening to Kew Garden to meet them and hand it over. 

Taking the scenic route my entire ride would see me clock up 23 miles. The agreed time was 19:00 and this time my route did not involve my wheels coming anywhere close to a canal towpath!

It was a lovely evening, with a gentle breeze and temperatures that made for pleasant cycling. As I approached Kew Gardens just before 19:00 memories of several rides to Box Hill and back came to mind. I have been to Box Hill several times over the years, with the start location of every one from just opposite the Victoria Gate entrance. In fact as I parked up to take the photo below, I half expected the Brompton crew of Mark (King of the Hill), David, Dr John and a few others roll in at any moment. I made a mental note to put this into the diary for the future...when we are all allowed

The buyer of my bag was Chris and she arrived bang on time. It has been ages since we saw each other and we chewed the fat for a while before saying our goodbyes.

As I cycled back I went through a small private road that had a wonderful surface dotted with little LED lights. It was all rather lovely and I liked it. 

I think that we are still a long way from the normality we once took for granted but hopefully rides of at least 6x people might be able to start up again soon. I have plans for lots of duo rides with my dear friend Dr John - assuming I can drag him out and convenience him to join me. Until then I have been getting my bikes ready for nocturnal adventures.

Stay safe out there people!

The start location for many a ride to Box Hill and back!

Shiny lights.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Terror when delivering sold items on my Orange Brompton!!

Over the years and more recently I have acquired more than my fair share of Brompton bags that sit cleverly on the front carrier block. Many of these have been gathering dust so I decided to put them up for sale and Friday and Saturday I delivered them to their new owners. 

The first was to the 'Mile Monster' that is Jenny. Our  meet up point was Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner at 19:30, which in the past had been the traditional start point for the night rides to the coast. 

My journey started and ended at my front door and I would eventually clock up 32 miles. The actual distance if I had of been lazy was vastly shorter but I felt like putting in a few miles so took the scenic route. Part of this scenic route I wished I had avoided!

As far as the weather was concerned it was changeable. There was a light pitting of rain, gentle breezes and then almighty bouts of much stronger stuff. As I cycled towards Hyde Park Corner my mind started to play tricks on me and I had to check myself to stop thinking about nocturnal adventures to the coast. 

One part of my journey took me on the Grand Union Canal not far from the Paddington Basin - I think? I do not really like cycling along canal towpaths in the day let along at night and as I type this I cannot offer an explanation as to why I decided to do it?

One section was dark and quiet to the extent that the noise from traffic, birds chirping and the sounds coming from buildings. Added to this the section of towpath was less than a metre across. This all conspired to make things quite terrifying and as such I hated every pedal turn of my beloved Titanium Orange Brompton! Things got even worse however. 

Trying out a new front light that is pretty good
What I saw with my own eyes
How the wonderful iPhone sees it

In the distance in the bend of canal towpath I saw an old chap throwing food down for what I assumed were ducks, swans or some other bird that people who do this sort of thing like to feed. To my complete horror it was none of these and was in fact rats! There must have been 10 at least all scurrying around him. I am ashamed to that the air was filled with several expletives as I negotiated this lunatic! Vowing never go on a canal towpaths again I was able to escape.

I arrived at Hyde park Corner in good time and Jenny and I chewed the fat for a while, catching up on Brompton gossip and telling each other about our respective plans for future rides. After about half and hour we said our good byes and headed off on our separate ways. 

My journey home was less eventful and I took in the sights of central London, still quiet for a Friday night.

The next day I was off out again with another bag I had sold, this time to Kew Gardens. Thankfully no canal towpaths were involved. I did cycle along a body of water but it was the rover Thames and the only feeding I saw was off ducks! Phew.

I met fellow Bromptonian, Richard at the Victoria Gate entrance of Kew and after chewing the fat for a while we made our exits. 

This journey allowed me to clock up 22 miles. I would have taken a more scenic route back but the rain started falling and I didn't want my newest Brompton to get too wet!!

Lockdown is still very much here at the moment and London is still rather quiet compared to what it should be. I certainly hope that things get back to something approaching normality sooner rather than later.

Stay safe out there people!

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Brompton bikes still hard to come by

Even with light at the end of the tunnel as far as the dreaded 'C' word is concerned and a possible end in sight to lockdown, finding a Brompton to buy is quite a hard task. 

In the first lockdown - which is coming up to its 12 month anniversary - Brompton bikes flew off the shelves and they became hard to buy. At the same time the secondhand market experienced a boost and there were some particularly stupid prices being banded around. 

It seems as if things have yet to improve and Brompton cannot make enough of our folding wonders. Perhaps things will stabilise somewhat in the coming months? 

One thing I think will happen, is that a sizeable number of new Brompton owners will eventually sell on their lockdown purchase if and when normality returns. Let's just hope the same cannot be said for the huge increase in canine ownership that has also seen a dramatic increase!

Stay safe out there people!!


Monday, 1 March 2021

Brompton Quad Lock phone mount

Brompton have collaborated with 'Quad Lock' to bring out there own universal adapter so that you can have your phone mounted securely and safely, slap bang in the middle of your handlebars.

Positioned in the centre of the handlebars over the stem and held in place but a double bracket, it really is a clever little addition. 

Lots of people use their phones for navigation and there are all sorts of ways you can try and lash your phone to your Brompton but this is definitely the best I have seen. 

There are two versions. for £35 you can just buy the mount for the handlebars - as lots of people might already have the comparable case for the their phones. For £45 you can buy the pack that has the mount and universal adapter that you stick to your existing phone case. (As seen in the photo below).

It really is rather clever and even with the mount installed, there is still a little real estate on the handlebars for a few other items as long as they aren't too big.

I suspect these will quite literally fly off the shelves. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Titanium Orange Brompton to Brompton Cemetery and back.

Yesterday I woke up to a quite loverly morning. The sky was blue, a few clouds hung above, indicating that there wasn't much of a breeze and it seemed pretty mild (for this time of year and compared to not long ago when it was freezing cold). I therefore decided to head out. 

I didn't really have anywhere in mind but decided upon Brompton Cemetery and back again. This would be a fairly easy few miles and I knew that not too far away there was a wonderful cake/tea shop that would be open for takeaways, few know about and fewer still I would divulge its location to!

As I set off on my Titanium Orange Brompton I could not help but reflect on the sad news that David H - who lived in Japan - has passed away. I met him in person in 2014 when he came to London for a few weeks and had corresponded with him via social media in the years up to this point. I recall offering him the use of one of my Brompton bikes if he wished as he was to meet many of the old crowd at the start of one of our evening rides. He was a lovely, lovely man and I know that he will be missed by many who like me met him in person only once or not at all.

My route was functional at first, getting me from A to B. Stopping at Hammersmith Bridge I wheeled my bike with the bridge in the background and took some photos. Wanting more, as it was low ride, I hobbled out on to the foreshore with my Brompton over my shoulder and took the photo you can see below. The things I do for you dear reader!!

Brompton Cemetery was busy, which surprised me greatly. This cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven that can be found around London. Opened in 1840 it is rather lovely but for me pails into insignificance when compared with my favourite at Kensal Green.

As I took the odd photograph and considered my route to that cake/tea shop I mentioned, I could not help but notice several people using the cemetery as the meet-up location for 1:1 training. One chap was skipping - like a boxer would - but didn't have a rope! He just moved his arms/hands as if he did. Astonishing! I tried my hardest to suppress a laugh but couldn't and it was only with great self-control that it wasn't accompanied by pointing in his general direction! With photo opportunities exhausted I headed back off towards SW7 and that cake/tea shop. 

This was a lovely ride and I clocked up a good amount of miles. The good weather did seem to bring out lots and lots of people and there were a fair few cyclists about. I only saw one other on a Brompton - cycling through Brompton Cemetery - and we nodded as be passed each other. 

Hopefully, there will be more rides to come in the not too distant and maybe, just maybe we might get a decent amount of rides in. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Cleaning my Orange Brompton bikes

Last Saturday afternoon I was waiting for a new router to do its things and download various updates before logging on to all things internet. While waiting, I decided to give both of my Orange Brompton bikes a good clean. 

There is something rather satisfying about getting your bikes nice and clean. The weather was quite lovely and such a change from the recent colder temperatures we have been experiencing of late. At this time of year - with the hint of better weather - thoughts would turn to cycling adventures and as I cleaned the bikes, this is what I did. 

We have now had the government inform us what to expect as far as the route out of lockdown and the dreaded C word. This means opening schools, opening shops, rule of six...the list goes on. I have to confess that as they were being listed I was thinking about when I could get out for a longer ride...perhaps to the coast? Terrible I know however I suppose we all need something to look forward to. 

Stay safe out there people!

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Produced in England but not available direct if living in England?

I was out on my Brompton yesterday for a few miles. I didn't wear cycling specific clothing - apart from my SPD cycling shoes - and just took the Brompton as headed off. At the end 20 miles I could not help in concluding that my Brooks B17 Special Edition with titanium rails was a supremely comfortable saddle. My friend Dr John had sent a link to some new addition to the Brooks lineup - coloured rivets some of which were orange - but it was not the saddles or rivets that caught my eye.

On the Brooks website is an 'important notice.' It seems that due to the changes in Brexit, they have temporarily suspended all new orders direct from Brooks to the UK. New saddles are apparently shipped to a logistics centre and from there around the world. All rather strange.

So, if you want a new Brooks saddle and you are here in the UK you will need to buy it via another source. This isn't such a big deal as you can still buy various Brooks products but I found it all rather comical. 

I remember visiting the Brooks factory a few years ago and seeing saddles being made, rivets being hammered into place etc.., and have always been a fan. Perhaps a solution will be found in the near future?

Stay safe out there people. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Dream of a Brompton night ride to the coast...

I don't know about you but when I get a new phone or laptop - the latter isn't that often as my MacBooks seem to last ages - I usually search out a photo to use as a screensaver. With my new and I have to say quite wonderful MacBook arriving last week, I went through this very process. 

The photo I found was from a night ride to the coast. I know that it was taken on the way to Whitstable. This particular location has some quite magical qualities about it and has often been named the Queen of rides. I wouldn't disagree. What is is doubt is the time. I think that it was taken at almost 05:00 am. 

The photo was snapped on an iPhone that I had back then, while cycling along behind the riders you can see. The sun had just risen and there was a haze all around us, that not 10 minutes later was all gone. Despite being in June I remember it being somewhat chilly, perhaps as we had not long left the warmth and sanctuary of the halfway stop.

For a few miles before and after this photo was taken, no-one said a word. The only sounds were those made by the many birds singing happily away and the sound the various bicycles made as they pedalled towards the finish and the prize of a cooked breakfast. This photo has always been one of my favourites and was a lucky capture. 

I got this photo onto my MaBook just before I retired to bed after along day. In my sleep I replayed this ride. My favourite part was reaching the point in the ride where participants reach the last left turn and are allowed to cycle as fast as they wish to the seafront. This was all so vivid that upon reaching the end of the ride - in my dream - I woke up. 

As I got ready for work I wowed to myself that along with a nocturnal Brighton adventure, the run to Whitstable will also feature in my bucket list of rides I want to do as soon as lockdown ends and we are permitted to do such journeys. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

No Brompton World Championships this year 🥲

I have to say that it was fairly obvious to just about everyone out there that the Brompton Word Championships would not be taking place in 2021. Now we have confirmation from Brompton themselves. 

When I say that things weren't a surprise, the sponsor for the event was not renewing and as far as I am aware there is yet to be one. With London - the world I suppose - the way it is at the moment, even with the most optimistic of outlooks, a mass cycling event in the heart of London was always going to be a nonstarter. 

It does seem like an age since I last raced, 'officially' on one of my Brompton bicycle around the rather lovely London circuit and it looks set to be at least a year from July/August (perhaps more) before I get the prospect of doing so.

I have to confess that when lockdown ends, my first thoughts will be simply being able to cycle wherever I like. Soon after that it will be to go on a cycle ride with my London Brompton brethren and of course a night ride to the coast.

Many of the Brompton old guard - for want of a better description - have possibly moved on somewhat from the Brompton World Championships (mainly as none of us ever seemed to get a place while held in London) but it is still something that induces quite a bit of excitement. 

If allowed and if you are in the area, in the early hours you might find an Orange Brompton being ridden along the old circuit at speed!

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Brompton Lockdown in London

On many levels, last week was the week from hell at work. There was lots going on and for a few days people were stressed out to say the least as the full effects of the situation we all find ourselves in was realised. Apart from my family two things kept me going. 

The first, was me replacing an almost 11 year old MacBook Pro for a new one with the 'M1' inside. My old MacBook still works but is rather slow to say the least by modern standards. Its replacement should prove to be a dramatic increase in speed and performance. It arrives sometime next week and I am already getting that childlike excitement I am prone to. 

The second was the prospect of the weekend and a cycle ride on one of my Brompton bicycles. I type 'one of my Brompton bicycles' but if you have been reading this blog for a while you might guess which one I took out. Have you guessed correctly? Yes it was my Orange, Black Special Edition. (There was no way my lovely and still fairly new Orange Titanium was going out onto the streets of London in winter)!

Early this morning it was rather chilly in SW7 and even after cycling a couple of laps of Hyde Park - as a ay to warm up - I still felt the cold. We are still very much in the grips of lockdown, where only one form of outdoor exercise is permitted per day. It certainly shows. Central London was deserted. Yes it normally a great deal quieter, especially on a Sunday but this is noticeably different. 

As I cycled around London and passed various locations, I could help but recall - quite vividly - memories of various cycling adventures. Start points for Friday night rides to the coast at Hyde Park Corner and near the London Eye. Christmas lights rides at Borough, Charring Cross and Trafalgar Square. The London Classic every time I cycled over cobbled streets. The Tweed Run when I cycled along the Embankment and the Brompton World Championships when I headed up The Mall. 

I think that when restrictions start to be lifted again it will quite possibly be well into March - if at all - and that brings the prospect of better weather. As soon as these two are realised, I suspect my first adventure may well have to be a night ride to the coast, probably with my dear friend Dr John. I wager every mile will be savoured. The point we reach Farthing Down relished. Our halfway stop where we have a drink and some refreshment viewed as a banquet and the journey back on the train one in which we can recall the nights adventure. Definitely something to look forward to. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Well this is 2021 Brompton riders!

The end of 2020 in London involved Tier 4 and many restrictions. As we ease into a brighter future, things are pretty much the same for the moment. Tier 4 may be extended to other parts of the country and who knows, we might even see Tier 5?!

Normally at this time of the year there are Brompton plans to be made and thoughts turn to cycling events and adventures in the near future. Apart from the Brompton World Championships - which I think only Devine intervention could make happen and provide me with a place in it - thoughts turn to events like the Dunwich Dynamo. Around this sort of time coach tickets could be bought for the return journey. 

Other events like night rides to the coast, where participants meet in central London and just before or on the stroke of midnight, cycle to destinations such as Brighton, Whitstable, Shoreham, Southend would normally start sometime in March. In-between these, I would be joined by my friend Dr John to go on our own night ride to the coast. For the moment, these rides are on hold. 

What I do have planned is several mini themed rides in and around London. I have some buildings to find in a very specific architectural ride. I have some Blue Plaques to find of some colourful characters. Another will see me travel back in time and delve into London's most gruesome past. The list really does go on and on. I suspect that for the first few months of 2021 these solo rides will be as far as I will be able to successfully plan ahead. 

It is only really thanks to my buying a Wahoo GPS device that I can do any of these at all. Before that my navigational prowess was woeful to say the least. Technology has afforded me confidence in getting from A to Z and eventually back to A - always rather important!

Wherever you are keep pedalling forward and do let me know what you are up to by sending an email and photo of your bike.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!